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:: sigh ::

...some books I actually did manage to finish

50bookchallenge:

#4: Akif Pirincci, Cave Canem
Not badly written, an original voice, quite a few very touching moments and as a kind of allegory about racism and ethnic violence it's effective, but never over-moralistic. Still, this crime-novel-featuring-cats thing is a little too unrealistic for my taste. I might be tempted to check out something else by the author, though...

#5: Kathryn M.Drennan, To Dream In the City Of Sorrows
Irritating. I don't usually read tie-in books, but I bought this in a fit of B5 enthusiasm/addiction to bridge the time until S4 is released on DVD. And maybe I expected too much and this kind of book shouldn't be measured against normal standards of literature, but as B5 itself sets some very high standards... I expected better.

Actually I think this book might have been better if it'd been written by anybody but JMS's wife. For all it comes with the official seal of approval of being 110% canon it's flat and lifeless, it just drags on and on; I had to force myself to actually finish it. The writing is very average, workmanship like; bemüht, but never inspired. 'Show, don't tell' obviously isn't a concept she's familiar with: every thought, every emotion is spelled out in excruciating detail. It lacks almost everything that makes B5 so special, the subtle foreshadowing and stunning revelations, the emotional impact. In the introduction JMS says how his wife was 'not just rigorously logical', but 'relentlessly logical' and maybe she is, but logic alone doesn't necessarily make good writing. In fact I'd rather put up with a few minor plot-holes.

It's the kind of fanfiction that while not toally OOC always leaves you with a slight feeling of disorientation and disappointment, because the characters are so much less than how you perceive them.

I would maybe be less harsh in my judgment, if the book's subject were a different one, but Sinclair's arc and its resolution in 'War Without End' to me has always been one of the most stunning story elements on B5 and to have it flattened like that... E.g. when Sinclair says "All my life, I've had doubts about who I am, where I belong. Now I'm like the arrow that springs from the bow. No hesitations. No doubts. The path is clear." this is an awesome moment, in a shiver-down-your-spine way. And K.M.Drennan tortures this metaphor to death throughout the book. What's more, it's applied to him by the Vorlons, while Sinclair resents and continuously rejects it for himself.

Finally, not only is the writing flat and uninspired, where the plot is concerned personally I have a harder time connecting the Sinclair at the end of this book with the Sinclair in WWE than the Sinclair at the end of S1. I can't see him being quite so zen when he'd only recently lost Kathrine to an uncertain fate, possibly death. It feels slightly wrong, just as the large part of the novel assigned to the Sinclair/Kathrine romance feels wrong and in terms of fanfiction smacks of Mary Sue. The vaguely open end just smacks of sequel.

#6: Thomas Mann, Tagebücher 1944 - 1946
I enjoyed that. On a personal level the style and form as well as the mostly emotionally distant tone fit my current mood just right; form a historic perspective it offers an interesting insight into the emigrants' world. But I enjoyed it on a literary level, too. There's a kind of unconscious poetry about the interplay between the leitmotif of daily activities, walks, lunches, weather, and the variations and breaks from it. The mostly rather restrained, almost laconic tone of voice emphasises when he does depart from it and becomes more personal and emotional and lends certain statements a whiplash quality.

Also? Occasionally it's dead funny. ("Schuhe und Anzug zum Reinigen. Nie wieder Strand-Ausflug")

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